Written by Kjetil Manheim
Lawyers, business consultants, IT-consultants and brand experts are very different disciplines. However, they all share the same need to document and share knowledge among themselves to be good at what they do and make the best value for their clients.
That is why if you have a job in the consulting business, you probably know a lot about cooperation platforms and knowledge management systems. Well, not necessarily know them, but of them. Knowledge and experience is the most important assets in consultancy based companies and firms that charge their customers for their highly skilled employees’ competence spend millions of dollars investing in software to ensure they get the most out of what their employees know and produce.
Why then do so few succeed in operating a sustainable knowledge management?
Do not get me wrong. Some firms are very good at their knowledge management and if you are working in one of them, I am sure you know the value it represent. However, many companies struggle in spite of their willingness to invest in necessary infrastructure and organization. You might say it is a mystery, but it is not. The cause of why it is like this is very human.
I have spent a considerable part of my working life as a business consultant and manager in consultancy firms. In my experience, the problem is always with the people not the systems. I do not mean to say that people are difficult or unwilling to cooperate. The problem lies in how we work or rather how we do not work and here are two reasons why it is so difficult to make knowledge management work:
1. People do not follow static routines
We believe in routines in business. Smaller companies often brag about their ability to adapt as they go and do not spend time on bureaucratic working routines. True enough, this is one of the benefits of being small. Larger firms however, depend on them to be able to function efficiently.
Because routines are so important we structure them in detail and organize us around them to optimize. This includes how we want to document and make available the accumulated knowledge as we go.
Our routines change all the time however and therein lies the problem. We people never stop to change how we work. It is part of what makes us human. Many people tend to think of changes as structured re-organization processes but most of the time we do not change orderly. This creates dissonance in our organizations. When the dissonance becomes too big to ignore, that is when the need for a new overall reorganization process emerge.
This continuous incremental change pattern is why knowledge management is so hard. Implemented routines becomes outdated fast and with them the structures connected to content and knowledge management. The ones that succeed seems to have the ability to avoid the dependency between routines and organization and how they publish content and manage their common knowledge.
2. People do not respond well to inefficiency
When we set up our routines for how we want to document our work and share our knowledge, it is surprisingly often an “add on routine”, something you “do in addition to what you actually do”. The consequence of this is inefficiency because people look at documenting and knowledge sharing as something that makes them ineffective. They do not have time to spend on all these knowledge management systems, collaboration platforms or meetings on top of everything else they do. They must spend their time where the actual value is, helping their clients.
It is very human to focus on short-term results and forget the long-term effect of documentation and knowledge management. It comes natural to us humans to focus on maximizing our own results. Helping others at our own expense does not come that easy.
The companies that succeed to avoid “add on routines” are often very conscious of the long-term effect. They enforce documentation with carrot or stick, or better; automatically gather documentation as the knowledge workers deploy their work. In the same way they gather documentation, they make it contextual available as their consultants are working instead of having topic map based systems they must seek out to find relevant information.
What Publicisto does for you
Publicisto is not a collaboration platform or a traditional knowledge management system. We focus on the maker of the content and the content itself.
Using Publicisto as the distribution platform to your customers and as your preferred internal and external company blog platform, you automatically make all content employees publish and deliver documented and available for the rest of the organization. Your employees do not have to spend additional time on a separate system. You can set access rules on content items from secret and hidden to be published on your open web page. Through integrations, you redistribute to other systems and services within and outside of your company.
Since we connect all content to the author, employees will accumulate everything they publish on their own page as they go, building their public profile around their production and deliveries. Some of it will be hidden but most will either be published in full or with metadata and descriptions only making it easy to find through search or through active push to other users of the platform.